2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 13 Oct 2003 18:43:36 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Williams Gateway needs time, money
Williams Gateway needs time, money
Betty Beard
Oct. 13, 2003 12:00 AM

The people trying to give the former Williams Air Force Base a makeover
have discovered that it is taking more money and time than they

Most of the structures on the East Valley base were so rundown or
outdated when it closed 10 years ago that almost everything has to be
remodeled or demolished, at an expense of $110 million so far, to turn
it into a modern airport and college campus.

But now that a lot of the work is behind them, officials are getting
excited about the future of the Williams Gateway Airport. The facility
has a U.S. Customs office and foreign trade-zone status and is poised to
handle international cargo and passengers to relieve congested Sky
Harbor International Airport.

Still, the lengthy and costly conversion could serve as a lesson plan if
other Arizona bases appear on a list in 2005, when the Defense
Department plans to begin closing a quarter of the country's military

Arizona officials are fighting to retain Luke Air Force Base in
Glendale, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Fort Huachuca near
Sierra Vista, and the Army Proving Ground and Marine Corps Air Station
in Yuma.

Those officials can look at the extensive Williams conversion work to
learn what they face.

Williams' new owners found splintery old buildings with asbestos and
lead paint; mercury and fuel contamination; weeds growing in streets;
outdated gas, electric, water and sewer systems; and coyotes, mice,
snakes and skunks.

"Everything we looked at needed work," said Wayne Balmer, Mesa's project
manager for the 4,100-acre base. "It will probably be another 10 years
until all the buildings are remodeled or removed and all the utility
systems are upgraded or rebuilt."

Tip from Balmer to anyone considering reusing a military installation:
"Realistically you should plan how much money you will need and how much
time it will take to accumulate it and then double it."

This article can be viewed at:

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